Origin of water that discharges from Calf Creek Spring, Garfield County, Utah

Open-File Report 95-340
Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management



Calf Creek Spring provides drinking water to users of Calf Creek Campground, which is operated by the Bureau of Land Management in southcentral Utah. Use of all methods and tools available indicates that surface water from Calf Creek does not contribute to the discharge of Calf Creek Spring.

Microscopic Particulate Analysis of spring water indicates that the spring has a low risk of surface-water contamination, which is substantiated by a bacterial test of water from the point of discharge of Calf Creek Spring, the Calf Creek Spring collection box, a tap from the water distribution system, and Calf Creek near the picnic area. Bacteria colonies were found in Calf Creek near the picnic area.

Calf Creek Spring discharges from fractured Navajo Sandstone where the potential for contamination by animal or human microbes is slight. Calf Creek probably gains water along its entire length from the aquifer in the Navajo Sandstone. Once at the surface, water in Calf Creek is exposed to animal- and human-borne microbes. If the water level in the Navajo aquifer at the spring remains higher than the water level of the creek, mixing is unlikely to occur and contamination is unlikely. The water level of Calf Creek Spring in June 1994 was at least 4 feet above the water level of Calf Creek.

Water from Calf Creek Spring is a mixed type composed of magnesium, calcium, sodium, bicarbonate, and sulfate ions, and water from Calf Creek is a mixed type composed of calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, sulfate, and chloride ions. Compositional similarity is not unusual if both water sources are derived from the Navajo aquifer.

Discharge and temperature measurements at the spring and in the creek in May and June 1994 vary independently and do not indicate a hydraulic connection. Turbidity measurements, though not conclusive, indicate that no direct hydraulic connection exists between Calf Creek and Calf Creek Spring.

Hydrologic characteristics of Calf Creek provide evidence that the probable long-term, sustainable source of water is the Navajo aquifer and not precipitation-derived runoff. Ground-water leakage from adjacent drainages could contribute to perennial flow in Calf Creek. Fractures modify the movement of ground water to discharge areas, such as Calf Creek Spring.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Origin of water that discharges from Calf Creek Spring, Garfield County, Utah
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 95-340
DOI 10.3133/ofr95340
Year Published 1995
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Salt Lake City, UT
Contributing office(s) Utah Water Science Center
Description iv, 10 p.
Country United States
State Utah
County Garfield County
Other Geospatial Calf Creek Campground, Calf Creek Spring
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